An experimental nasal spray developed in Finland could protect people against COVID-19 infection for up to 8 hours. Researchers at the University of Helsinki have developed a new treatment that successfully blocked infection with the virus in laboratory animal studies. The mice that were used in the study were also less likely to have upper respiratory distress after contact with the virus when the spray was given.
“This technology is cheap and highly manufacturable, and the inhibitor works well against all variants,” said one of the study’s authors, Kalle Saksela, according to the New York Post. The spray recognizes and binds to the coronavirus spike protein, temporarily inhibiting its function. It was originally developed for people with weakened immune systems and those at high risk of serious illness from COVID-19. The nasal spray contains an antibody-like protein, and researchers say a small dose prevented cells from being infected even by the omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
The spray uses innovative technology called TriSb92, a molecule developed by researchers that protects against coronavirus infection for at least 8 hours, even in high-risk situations. Unlike vaccines, TriSb92 begins to work immediately after being administered. It targets a specific site on the coronavirus spike protein that is common to all variants, explained Anna Makela, the study’s first author.
“In other words, we can reasonably assume that future variants of SARS-CoV-2 and perhaps even entirely novel coronaviruses that could threaten to cause pandemics are susceptible to it,” she said. declared. The product will potentially provide a “biological mask” to protect against coronavirus infections when sprayed on mucous membranes.
The University of Helsinki study has not been peer-reviewed, and the intranasal inhibitor spray needs to be tested on humans, experts say, so more research is needed before it becomes a approved treatment for COVID-19.
Saksela said the spray was not developed to replace vaccines or other treatments for COVID-19, according to the Post.
“Its prophylactic use is intended to protect against SARS-CoV-2 infection,” she said. “However, it is not a vaccine, nor an alternative to vaccines, but rather an adjunct to vaccination to provide additional protection.”
However, given the current situation where the omicron variant appears capable of evading vaccine protection, the nasal spray may be a crucial treatment adjunct for those who are immunocompromised or at higher risk of severe disease.
“People whose immune systems don’t respond strongly enough to vaccines come particularly to mind,” Saksela said. “That said, we do know that newer variants, particularly omicron, are able to circumvent even effective vaccine responses in worrying ways. Taken before any social interaction, TriSb92 could be useful for people whose vaccine protection is insufficient for one reason or another. Depending on the epidemic situation, it could also benefit people who were fully vaccinated before any high-risk exposure situation.
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